University of Manchester and Lancaster University

Researchers at the University of Manchester and Lancaster University have been working in partnership with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the National Maritime Research Institute and Nagaoka University of Technology, to develop a submersible robot, AVEXIS, that can be deployed into the damaged core of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to locate and characterise the radioactive materials that are located within it. Lancaster University, led by Professors Malcolm Joyce and James Taylor, have developed gamma and neutron detectors, able to locate nuclear fuel while the University of Manchester, led by Professor Barry Lennox and Dr Simon Watson, have developed the robotic platform that will transport the detectors. The research partners in Japan have focused their efforts on the development of a sonar system able to topographically map the reactor environment.

In October 2017, AVEXIS was successfully tested at the Naraha research facility, located approximately 15 km from Fukushima Daiichi. Figures 1 and 2 show AVEXIS on its deployment in the tank at Naraha. In Figure 1, the sonar system can be seen connected to the underside of the ROV. In Figure 2 the red and green lights are designed to provide positional information. This work was funded by EPSRC in collaboration with the Japanese Ministry of Education Sport Culture and Technology (EP/P018505/1). A similar vehicle has recently been deployed in the Magn ox Swarf Storage Silo on the Sellafield site.

Figure 1: AVEXIS vehicle inside Naraha
water tank
Figure 2: AVEXIS vehicle during
deployment at the Naraha research facility